Dienstag (Tuesday) 22.3.2011–Three tours, one Mayor, and one night at the Waschhaus

Tuesday morning we rose early to gather at 8:05am in our hostel lobby to head out to the tram station and catch our ride to Lindenstraße in the main part of Potsdam. We took a tour (auf Deutsch!) of Gedenkstätte Lindenstraße–memorial site of a former jail where people went against the ways of the DDR were placed and questions (for upwards of months) until they pleaded guilty of their “crime.” Here is the site of the memorial, even though it is in German: http://www.potsdam.de/cms/beitrag/10028894/34714. The tour was eye-opening and gave insight to the negative/harsh sides of the DDR.

After the tour we headed over to the City Hall for our meeting with Potsdam Lord Mayor (Oberbürgermeister) Jann Jakobs: http://www.potsdam.de/cms/beitrag/10001897/27335/. Look him up–he even has his own Wikipedia site. This was a rare and special experience for our group. We had a conference with the mayor in one of the conference rooms, and were each provided with complementary Potsdam calendars, a note pad, and pen. He talked about Potsdam (auf Deutsch) and then we had the chance to ask him any questions we wanted about him and/or the city. Following this brief conference we were treated by Sigrid and the city of Potsdam to lunch in the cafeteria.

Our next stop was at Villa Schöningen near the famous Glienicker Brücke (Glienicke Bridge) where spy exchanges took place during the years of the Cold War. We took a tour or the Villa, which is now a museum regarding the bridge (http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=de&u=http://www.villa-schoeningen.de/&ei=eOSUTYu-Meew0QGA1_WGDA&sa=X&oi=translate&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBwQ7gEwAA&prev=/search%3Fq%3DVilla%2BSch%25C3%25B6ningen%26hl%3Den%26client%3Dsafari%26rls%3Den%26prmd%3Divns), then we met our next German tour guide who brought us to Schiffbauergaße (ship builders lane) and the surrounding area (http://www.schiffbauergasse.de/). After this tour we had the rest of our day free. The group split up–some went shopping on Brandeburger Straße, some went back to the hostel, and I went with a few others back to the Glienicker Brücke to OFFICIALLY cross the bridge and pass from the old east side (in Potsdam) to the old west side (Berlin). One funny story we learned at the museum earlier that day is that one of the Russian spies, Anatoly Sharansky, was asked what went through his mind as he was “exchanged” and walked over the line from west back to east Germany. He responded by saying that he was hoping his trousers wouldn’t fall down–his belt/trouser rope that held up his pants came loose as he was walking across the bridge. Naturally, I had to take a photo of myself crossing the white line on the bridge (barely visible anymore), holding up my pants.

A recommendation on our itinerary was to check out the “Waschhaus” (old wash house) in the Schiffbauergasse, because there are concerts for students our age every Tuesday night at 9pm. Our tour guide had pointed out the Waschhaus to us earlier that day on our tour, so we knew exactly where to go. This Tuesday night shindig is referred to as “Rubeys Tuesday,” so prior to our arrival in Germany our group thought that our itinerary had plans for us to go to a Ruby Tuesday restaurant, but that it was just spelt wrong on our schedule . I heard mixed feelings/reviews of the night at the Waschhaus, but I personally had a great time. The drinks were cheap (and the great thing is that if you return your glass or beer bottle you get money back–yay recycling!), and the atmosphere was welcoming–just a bunch of people gathering for music and a good time.

We were told to meet in the hostel lobby around 8:30am the next morning, so no one stayed out too late Tuesday night. We stayed out late enough to miss the last possible tram ride for the day until the next one at 4am the next morning, however. After waiting about 20 minutes for the tram, my group realized that the tram we were waiting for only ran on Fridays (thank you, fine print and obscene symbols). We walked the 30-minute walk back to the hostel (shorter than expected) at about 12:30am, singing to keep ourselves entertained, and went to bed immediately upon arrival.

–Heidi

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